Inside the many minds of the octopus.
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Drifting at any depth in all the world’s oceans, these creatures range from an Arctic species with a bell the size of a car, to a venomous microscopic Australian. Carnivorous predators, jellyfish swarm around our coasts and litter our beaches, yet we know surprisingly little about them. Some of the most recognisable species don’t even qualify as true jellyfish. One such, a Portuguese Man of War (Physalia physalis), its inflated bladder keeping it poised at the surface, is not even a single animal, but a sizeable colony containing four types of minute, highly modified polyps.
Venturing away from the coral reefs of the tropics into cooler seas—like those around New Zealand—you enter the realm of kelp. Here meadows of swaying fronds and dense forests of seaweed abound with life.
Despite being hunted to the edge of extinction in the 19th century, New Zealand fur seals seem to be making a modest recovery. Although the animals are still sparse around most of the North Island, several South Island rookeries are increasing in size, making some fishers nervous at the prospect of increasing competition from these efficient predators. Many, however, are entranced by the lithe, playful animals-and regard seals as a great asset to our coastal wildlife.
Placid or storm-tossed, the surface of the sea is merely the portal into Earth's largest domain, the ocean realm. For 15 years, Tauranga-based marine biologist and photographer Kim Westerskov has dived his home waters of the Bay of Plenty and found myriad subjects for his camera.
Almost driven to extinction for their meat, oil, bone and baleen, humpback whales are making a comeback, not only in the seas, but in human consciousness. With their haunting songs and evidence of culture—even language—they are now embraced as mysterious long-neglected kin, perhaps a seat of wisdom deeper and more enduring than our own; icons of oceans too long abused.
Between 1941 and 1945, far from the battle fronts of Europe, Africa or even the Pacific, a handful of hardy volunteers kept a look-out for the enemy on two uninhabited island groups in the subantarctic.
New Zealand's most active volcano is a magnet to scientists and sightseers, but behind its primeval beauty lies a violent history—both human and geological.
Many birds migrate to escape the rigours of winter. Not so emperor penguins. Each autumn they march towards breeding sites on the edge of Antarctica, where they will raise their young in the freezing darkness of the harshest winters on earth.
Earth's protective ozone shield is being destroyed by two processes: the slow eating away of ozone by chlorine around the globe, and dramatic holes that appear over Antarctica every spring.
A visit to your local fish shop will only confirm the fine print on the supermarket boxes: most of the fish we are eating these days was unheard of a decade ago. Furthermore, we are now exporting these strange-sounding entities (hoki, alfonsino, orange roughy, oreo dory) all around the globe. Fishing has become a major new industry, but the operation bears only a limited resemblance to the fishing that was practised less than 20 years ago.
Though it is little more than a speck in the ocean, Tuhua (Mayor Island) has a remarkable history of violent volcanic upheaval, bloody tribal warfare and legendary big game fishing. Buddy Mikaere tells the story of an island which ranks as one of the jewels of the Bay of Plenty.
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